We talked to Valter Taranzano, CEO at Nidec Global Appliance, about the manufacture of commercialization of cooling solutions and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Valter Taranzano: We are all doing well and fortunately with no case of Covid-19 in my family, thanks for asking. Personally, I have changed some habits/practices, in particular when it comes to travels. I used to travel a lot pre-pandemic because of the business needs, but with the necessary restrictions, I was challenged to fully embark in the digital world to remain connected with all the teams and operations around the world, which revealed to be not only the right choice but also fruitful in terms of efficiency. During my life, I’ve always loved challenges, and so I’ve tried to learn and make the best out of this negative situation. For instance, I’m having the chance to spend more time in Italy, with my family, and have learned that it is possible to run the business by being behind the computer screens.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Nidec global Appliance.
Valter Taranzano: I joined the Nidec Corporation in 2013 as CEO of Nidec Sole Motor. In 2014, I became CEO of the Nidec Global Appliance, a division of Nidec Corporation which combines the synergies between brands and products for home and commercial applications, including cooling solutions, motors for washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers, as well as components for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC).
But getting back to the beginning: I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering with a specialization in robotics, from the Polytechnic of Turin, and an MBA from the SDA Bocconi University of Milan. I started my career in SKF, focused on production and quality, and, after 9 years, in 1989, I joined Electrolux in the components division. After that, I was CEO of Ceset Italy and Emerson Slovakia, of Emerson Appliance Motor and Control EMEA, and of ACC – Appliance Components Companies.
The ACC was a turning point in my career since I had the chance to found the company, bringing a dream of mine (to set up a company) into life. Having started buying the motors division of Electrolux, ACC performed very well, leading to the acquisition of the compressors division of Electrolux as well. After a period, I left the company and made a pause in my career, in which I made minor collaborations – as a consultant – with other companies. About 6 years later, I joined Nidec, which had previously bought ACC: in this way, I returned to manage the company I created, and now, it is part of Nidec GA, an organization that has 14 manufacturing plants and 15,000 employees.
How does Nidec Global Appliance innovate?
Valter Taranzano: Innovation is a key value for our company and represents one of the main sources of differentiation for NGA brands and products. That is why the company invests 3% to 4% of its annual revenue in research and development to be always at the forefront of our customers’ needs.
To sustain this differential of us, the Research & Development area is one of the most important pillars. It encompasses multidisciplinary teams, with specialists in all subjects that impact the product or the production process, such as thermodynamics, application engineering, structural analysis, acoustics and vibration, materials engineering, process, and product engineering. To house these experts in a fertile environment, the company can count on 9 R&D centers worldwide.
Beyond that, we rely on outside-in support by maintaining partnerships with several universities and research institutes (with almost 40 years of continuous partnership with some of them) that beyond being an additional extremely capable workforce, enable us to closely monitor all the main advances and trends in processes, materials, technologies, and regulations in our field. As a result of that, we have more than 600 professionals involved in our development and innovation. Lastly, but not less important, another innovation lever is the synergy with our customers. This is key to our success, once several innovations and product improvements come from customer feedback.
The coronavirus pandemic strengthened our belief in the necessity of having a close look at trends and changes. Is up to businesses to be acutely aware of market trends and more so of their consumers’ and customers’ movements in order not only to meet expectations but also to anticipate them.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Valter Taranzano: Nidec Global Appliance has more than 15,000 employees spread in 14 factories, 4 commercial offices, and one business support center, which are distributed across nine countries. We have factories in China, Europe, North America, and Latin America.
By counting on this broad and geographically balanced footprint, we had the chance to anticipate preventive protocols in the European and American factories and offices by learning from our Asian colleagues’ experience on firstly dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. We set up a global committee that, in partnership with regional ones, implemented procedures and actions that enabled the business to continue running while ensuring communication, cleaning, and hygiene routines as well as the establishment of testing and social distancing protocols. This scenario allowed the company to keep its commitments with customers while putting the health and safety of our people in the first place.
Now talking about our products, I must start by reinforcing our purpose, which is to give life to essential appliances that offer well-being, turning people’s day-to-day lives into healthier and more comfortable experiences. This is exactly the reason why we exist and in this moment of a global health crisis, I see our compressors, motors, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems) components being even more crucial.
The spin of those products are enablers for the preservation of food, medicines, and vaccines; are fundamental to attend to the increased demand for home appliances that facilitate peoples’ lives, such as washing machines, dishwashers, and dryers; as well as an important part of quality air-conditioning and heating systems. In order to fulfill the company’s purpose and continue to attend to customers in the midst of these unprecedented times, Nidec GA managed to adapt and evolve in such a way that even productivity records were achieved in several plants along 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Valter Taranzano: Unprecedented times require unprecedented choices. We were all required to quickly adapt to a new reality, adopt new habits, and move one doing business in a new way. Our plants worldwide have deployed various initiatives to safeguard the health of our employees, and it was impressive to accompany not only how fast this happened, but also how fast our teams responded with such a great sense of responsibility and collaboration.
The truth is that the company’s dynamic changed since we had to learn how to lead, dialogue, be trained, and do business in a remote way. The lesson learned is that it is possible and it is working. Do I miss being closer to the teams, closely accompanying the operations? Of course, I do, but it was important to show that we must always think out of the box, conceiving solutions that are not part of our “normal” thinking and trusting that they can generate a real added value for our work and our customers.
In general, our administrative teams are being encouraged to remain working from home whenever possible. Even so, we continue to be close to our customers, launching products, joining virtual trade shows and internal collaboration still exists, but in a different way.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Valter Taranzano: Working in collaboration, finding new solutions, and trust that our team of 15,000 people around the world is doing their best. Everybody has some stressful moments and last year was tough, but I would like to highlight that as the CEO of NGA I am proud of the commitment all our employees had to the company.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Valter Taranzano: As Nidec Global Appliances is present in many countries and segments – cooling solutions for commercial and residential applications, motors for washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers, as well as components for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning- systems (HVAC) – we have different competitors in each one of them. For us, the key point to stay in the game is to innovate for differentiation and have customers in the center of our business strategy, not only to fulfill their expectations but to build joint solutions while anticipating possible needs.
Your final thoughts?
Valter Taranzano: As final “food for thought”, I would like to comment on two trends that came as a consequence of the pandemic:
- We all have seen in the news or economics and social analysis reports how this pandemic has increased people’s and government’s concerns about sustainability around the world and this is even stronger in Europe. Transposing it to our business, I see the potential to boost the attention towards sustainable solutions for home and commercial appliances and, for us, it is a great opportunity because for many years we have been investing in R&D (Research and Development) to offer the most energy-efficient motors, compressors and condensing units, and to foster the use of natural refrigerants in our refrigeration solutions*. So it is great to see the market moving now at a faster speed towards a direction that we have seen some years ago.
- The other global trend that has arisen in consumer behavior in the context of the coronavirus pandemic is what is being called “cocooning”. The name refers to the habit of staying more at home, which became a necessity since March 2020 and it has made people take a better look at their home, and what their households could offer them. It made people invest in products both practical and comfortable, such as new appliances that would facilitate their lives. Nidec GA provides solutions for most of the major home appliances manufacturers worldwide, so we are an important part to attend this trend with innovative and high-performance products that save energy, have lower noise, and less environmental impact.
Just to explain, the refrigerant is the gas that is pumped inside the refrigerator to remove the heat from it. It can be synthetic or natural and the natural option we use, the hydrocarbons, has the lowest environmental impact, which means zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and very low or zero global warming potential.
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